Today, women’s economic empowerment has become an essential component of economic development programming. However, it is now known that improvement in women’s economic situation often comes with heavy unanticipated costs to women. Violence, in particular, is too often a by-product, as our research and that of others elsewhere have shown.
The Do No Harm project addresses the question of how to improve women’s economic agency without compromising their safety and well-being. Drawing on primary qualitative research in Jiwaka and Chimbu provinces in Papua New Guinea, the authors report here on the links they have found between women’s income generating activities and an increased incidence of violence against them. At the same time, they report on other problems that have arisen due to a combination of changes in women’s economic status and more general changes in the culture.